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In modern Western societies, God is dead. Is this correct?

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Introduction

In modern Western societies, 'God is dead'. Is this correct? The words used in the topic for the first time were used by F. Nietzsche in his 'The Gay Science' (1882) and popularized by 'Thus spoke Zarathustra' (1883-1885) in which he shows his idea of God being dead. What he meant is of course not the case that God has died literally. It has rather to tell that religion (in this case - Christianity) is a caricature of what it should be or what Jesus intended or would wish it to be. However, sociologists use this sentence in different meaning although its source still lies in Nietzsche's understanding of this particular phrase. I will try to find out the connection between Nietzsche's death of the God and the sociologists' discussion on whether modern Western societies are already secular or not and then to suggest some answers to the question depending on the stand one is looking from. The point that Nietzsche makes is that the particular Christian God (or rather the idea of him) has rather been killed (by the people of course) than died. Moreover, he has written that 'Gott ist tot' rather than 'Gott starb' which means rather 'God is dead' (which would focus the attention of God being dead NOW) ...read more.

Middle

However, it should be mentioned that people arguing so miss out something important by rejecting to accept this term. It can be easily seen that there are measurable ongoing processes considering a constant loss of interest in religion in European societies (in surveys 13.5% of British people are members of the Church of England, while in Poland - around 90% are members of Roman Catholic Church). For that reason it is hard not to make an assumption that there is such a thing as secularization of the society. Focusing on the methods of measuring this unclear process, some different ways of doing that can be mentioned. Steve Bruce argues that it should be done in most empirical way it is possible. For him, 'we are concerned with the changing popularity and place of certain beliefs and types of behaviour' and 'we are not in the business of judging the quality of those beliefs and actions or the sincerity of those who adhere to them' (1996, p. 25-26).What he means by this is that secularization can be considered for example in terms of statistically measurable behaviours (like per cent of mass attendance). The second idea comes from Wilson. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is also much more comfortable to do what one sees as appropriate than what one has to do. Because of this a consumer culture can also be a challenge for contemporary religion. The last problem for that has to be mentioned is science. They have always been competing with each other for which of the sides is right. However, there has been a raise of science recently and because of that it is rather impossible for the situation similar to the Galileo's to happen again nowadays, which would suggest that religion has indeed a weaker position in Western society than it had in 16th century. As long as data taking society into account is under the consideration, it seems that it indeed confirms the thesis that we do live a secular society. However, most of the people declare that they believe in something supernatural (regardless of what it is) and thus it cannot be said that religion is in complete decline. It just has moved to the personal level and every one of us decides on their own how important it is for themselves. Still, if we are answering the question whether God is dead, and as it has been stated above it refers to the overall society, we are likely to say: Yes, God is (still?) dead. ...read more.

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